Thursday, August 11, 2022

The Abbey of Chaise-Dieu (Part 2): The Tapestries

Last week, we shared some pictures recently taken by a friend of one of the most beautiful abbeys in France, the Chaise-Dieu. The former monastery buildings now also house a very remarkable set of early 16th century tapestries, which were designed to hang in the choir of the abbey church. These were commissioned by the abbot of Saint-Nectaire, one of La Chaise-Dieu’s many dependent houses, in 1501; each tapestry depicts a New Testament scene alongside related scenes from the Old Testament.
The Crucifixion, with the Binding of Isaac (Gen. 22) at the upper left, and the Bronze Serpent (Num. 21) at the upper right.

The Birth of Christ, with Moses and the Burning Bush (Ex. 3) to the left, and the Flourishing of the Rod of Aaron (Num. 17) to the right. At the top are the prophets Habakkuk and Isaiah, with banderoles on which are written their respective prophecies of the Incarnation: Habakkuk 3, “O Lord, I have heard Thy report, and grown afraid...”; Isaiah 9, “Unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given.”
The Adoration of the Magi" to the left, the episode recounted in 2 Samuel 23, 13-17, of the three soldiers who bring water from the fountain of Bethlehem to King David; to the right, and Solomon and the Queen of Sheba (3 Reg. 10). At the top are King David and Isaiah, with banderoles on which are written from Psalm 71 “Kings shall bring thee gifts”, and from Isaiah 60, “They shall adores the traces of Thy feet.”
The Massacre of the Holy Innocents: to the left, the murder of the priests of the house of Achimelech (1 Samuel 22); to the right, and Queen Athaliah killing the sons of Ochoziah (4 Reg. 11). At the top are the prophets Jeremiah and Hosea, with banderoles on which are written from Jeremiah 31 “A voice was heard in Rama, of mourning and wailing”, and from Hosea 8, “They reigned, and not from from me.”
The Raising of Lazarus: to the left, Elijah raising a dead child (3 Kings); to the right, Elisha doing the same (4 Reg. 5). At the top, King David has on his banderole the words of Psalm 118, “Thy word giveth me life”, and the prophet Samuel, “The Lord killeth and maketh alive”, although these words are actually spoken by his mother Anna in her canticle in 1 Samuel 2.

The Triumphal Entry in Jerusalem on Palm Sunday; to the left, David holding the head of Goliath (1 Samuel 17), a symbol of Christ’s Triumph over the devil; to the right, Elisha with the sons of the prophets (4 Reg. 5). At the top, King David has on his banderole the words of Psalm 149, “Let the sons of Zion exult in their King”, and the prophet Jeremiah (13, 16), “Give glory to the Lord your God.”

The Last Supper; to the left, Melchisedek presents his tithes to Abraham (Genesis 14); to the right, the Fall of the Manna (Exodus 16). At the top, Asaph has on his banderole the words of Psalm 77, which is ascribed to him in its title, “Man ate the bread of angels”, and King David, (Ps. 104), “He satisfied them with the bread of heaven.”

The Resurrection; to the left, Samson steals the doors of Gaza (Judges 16); to the right, Jonah is released from the whale (2, 11).
The Meeting of Christ and Mary Magdalene in the Garden.
The Ascension; to the left, the prophet Micheas has a vision of God, and pronounces the words “He shall go up, preparing a way before them” (2, 13); to the right, the Ascension of Elijah in the fiery chariot (4 Kings 2).

Pentecost; to the left, the prophet Ezechiel speaks the words “I will place my spirit in your midst” (36, 27), and Moses speaks to God on the mountain (Exodus 33); to the right, the Sacrifice of Elijah (3 Kings 18).

The Coronation of the Virgin; to the left, Solomon and his mother, Bathsheba, (3 Kings 2); to the right, Queen Esther with King Assuerus.

The Adoration of the Shepherds: lower left, the Annunciation; lower right, the Visitation; upper middle, the Annunciation to the Shepherds; upper left, the Presentation in the Temple; upper right, the Adoration of the Magi.

The Resurrection

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